20 Signs of Life in 2002
Number 3 - Pedro the Lion - Control
For the second album in a row, Pedro the Lion’s Dave Bazan has given us a story of lies, murder and betrayal wrapped up in wonderful melodies. On Control, adultery and corporate disloyalty replace the moral rationalization of politics on 2000’s Winners Never Quit.
Control feels crunchier in places than its predecessor, with heavy guitars on songs like "Rapture" and "Rehearsal," and beautiful keys on "Indian Summer" and "Magazine." The ironic and lyrically brilliant "Options" sets the tone with its honest and ugly look at selfishness. With help from fellow Seattleite Casey Foubert, Bazan adds more flesh to the album’s narrative this time around, while never letting the bigger picture get in the way of individual songs. He’s also adept at relying on the music as much as the lyrics to deliver the punch of his satirical battering ram. One of Control’s best, "Paramedics," reveals that the spurned wife has shot and killed her husband. A bouncy tune sung with an eerie lack of emotion, it moves from the husband’s last moments to the graveside where a priest has lost his faith: "You’re gonna die / We’re all gonna die / Could be 20 minutes, could be tonight." This "bitter cup" is followed by the dirge-like "Rejoice," in which Bazan sings "Wouldn’t it be so wonderful / If everything were meaningless / But everything is so meaningful / And most everything turns to shit / Rejoice." In 20 words, the young songwriter sums up two albums’ worth of the darkness and despair accompanying the lust for money, power and flesh. Bazan promises to finish the trilogy on a note of redemption, but with Control he’s left us with a beautiful and tragic record to ponder and enjoy.